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Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, 82, ‘was banished from the country by his son King Felipe VI’

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos was banished from the country by his son – the reigning King Felipe VI – amid the latter’s corruption scandal, sources claim.

The 82-year-old revealed on Monday that he had decided to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, ‘exercise his responsibilities’. 

But sources claimed it was King Felipe who cast his father out to save his family from ‘certain happenings’ relating to Juan Carlos’s relationship with his German mistress Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein – with some fearing he might not come back. 

Sayn-Wittgenstein has been placed under investigation in relation to audio recordings of a meeting between herself and retired Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at her London home in 2015. 

In the recordings, she allegedly claimed Juan Carlos received a secret commission for helping to win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal.

Villarejo asked for a meeting under the pretense that Spain’s intelligence services were plotting to implicate her in criminal activity and went on to leak the tapes of their conversation to the media.

A source told The Sunday Times that the German businesswoman and philanthropist ‘was different from any of his other girlfriends’ and he was ‘absolutely besotted’ 

While he is immune from prosecution as he remains Spain’s ‘king emeritus’, he will answer questions from prosecutors, his lawyer said. 

A Royal Palace spokesman and a lawyer for Juan Carlos both said they had nothing to say. They have made no public comment beyond Monday’s announcement of the king’s departure. 

The former king previously said his exit is only temporary telling friends: ‘I’m not on holiday and I’m not abandoning Spain. This is just a parenthesis.’

It was reported yesterday that his current hideaway is a £10,000-a-night presidential suite in one of the world’s most expensive hotels in Abu Dhabi. 

Respected right-wing Spanish daily ABC reported the former king checked into the Emirates Palace Hotel on Monday evening, around the same time his letter to his son Felipe VI announcing his decision to leave Spain was made public.

It said he had taken a private plane from Vigo near Spain’s north-west border with Portugal on Monday with at least five other passengers including four bodyguards. 

Juan Carlos is said to have been in a relationship with Sayn-Wittgenstein between 2004 and 2008. 

The couple are already facing other legal trouble in Switzerland, where an inquiry is investigating secret offshore accounts linked to the pair.

Swiss prosecutors are examining a €65 million (£59 million) payment the former King made to Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012 under suspicion of money laundering.

An alleged $100 million donation in 2008 – then worth €65 million – to Juan Carlos from the then-King of Saudi Arabia, is also being looked at by Yves Bertossa, a Swiss prosecutor.

Bertossa is investigating whether the donation and the subsequent payment to Sayn-Wittgenstein were connected to the payment of illegal commissions for the construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia.

The railway was constructed by a Spanish consortium in 2011.

Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein’s legal defence deny the payment was linked with illegal commissions, instead claiming that it was a gift.

A lawyer for Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, Robin Rathmell, said: ‘Corinna never hired or discussed hiring Villarejo and therefore never paid him for anything,’ according to The Times. ‘Our client will robustly defend her rights against these baseless accusations.’  

Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but recent scandals have tarnished his image.

News of the former monarch’s exit is continuing to make huge waves at home.

An online petition to change the name of Madrid’s King Juan Carlos university had racked up more than 39,000 signatures on Wednesday morning.

‘Corruption cases surrounding the Royal Family keep appearing, torpedoing the image of a monarchy that had been presented to us as ‘wholesome’ and ‘humble” the petition read.

A lawyer for Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, Robin Rathmell, said: ‘Corinna never hired or discussed hiring Villarejo and therefore never paid him for anything,’ according to The Times. ‘Our client will robustly defend her rights against these baseless accusations.’  

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